Hong Kong Sevens

China team bank on Societe General for sponsorship support

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 March, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 29 March, 2010, 12:00am

One of the inimitable charms of Hong Kong is that it is a global city in every sense of the world. The merging of the cultures that happens on the So Kon Po pitch sums up its very essence. As with the 24 teams on the pitch - and the various ethnic origins within each team - diversity is the pulse that keeps the heart of business beating.

The meeting of minds, planning and endless strategy not only makes for a good game of rugby; it makes this place tick.

Proving that Hong Kong is a league of nations in every aspect, French bank Societe Generale employs people from about 20 countries here. Recently, the bank started sponsoring the China national rugby sevens team.

Head of mergers and acquisitions in Asia Pacific, Richard Lewis, said: 'SG has been supporting rugby for 25 years, mostly in Europe. Through this sponsorship, we aim to prove that rugby's values of respect and team spirit reflect our corporate values. Rugby is the ultimate 'school for life'. It corresponds to our efforts to support the arts and education, as well as sports.'

Commenting on the sponsorship, Lewis added: 'In China, sevens is growing in popularity, especially following the recent spirited performances of both the women and men's teams.'

Lewis might work for a French company, but he's pure Welsh. In his lilting accent, he pointed out that the Welsh diaspora in Hong Kong was a big part of industry's 'brains trust'.

In the stadium this weekend, Kevin Taylor was hosting the BT box. Directors Rhodri James and John Davies were over in the CB Richard Ellis box on the east side near the South Stand. On the west side, Martin Hills was waving the red and green dragon flag in the Deloittes box. President of the St David's Society and Herbert Smith partner Gareth Thomas, was box hopping. Legal partner Ian De Witt was in the Tanner De Witt box and former St David's Society president Bill Morrison was in the South Stand.

When asked if Wales will win the Hong Kong Sevens next year, Lewis said: 'After that World Cup last year in Dubai, in the immortal words of Tom Jones, 'It's not unusual.'